5 Activities to Make Your Layovers Fun

Layovers are like the awkward middle child of travel. Nobody likes them, but you can’t avoid them either. You’re stuck in a sterile airport with nothing but overpriced food and uncomfortable chairs to keep you company.

But what if I told you that layovers could be more fun? Yes, you heard it right. With a little bit of creativity and planning, you can turn your layovers into mini-adventures and make the most of your travel time. In fact, you might look forward to your layovers more than your actual destination.

As a frequent flyer, I can’t but dread the thought of long layovers, cramped airport seats, and stale airplane food. If you’re like me, fear not, my fellow traveler! I’m here to share 5 activities to make your layovers fun and enjoyable, whether stuck in New York, Chicago, or LA. So buckle up, grab your carry-on, and let’s fly!

1. Plan Ahead

Planning ahead and doing your homework is the key to a successful and fun layover. Ideally, you don’t want to leave things to chance or last-minute decisions. So instead, research your layover airport, destination city, local attractions, and activities beforehand. You can find that info easily on the internet and other fun activities you can do during your layover.

For example, let’s say you have a layover in London for a day. So now you can easily get recommendations and ideas to make the most out of your layover time by looking up the best ways to spend a day in London and make the most out of your time.  

Here are things you should consider when you are planning for your layover:

  • Before you arrive at the airport, check the airport’s website or app for maps, facilities, and services. If you plan to leave the airport & explore the city during your layover, check the visa and immigration requirements of the country you’re visiting. Also, you can check on some amazing websites to explore fun activities during layovers.
  • Some countries may require a transit visa or a visa waiver depending on your nationality and the length of your stay. Find out if transit options such as trains, buses, or shuttles can take you to the city center or nearby sights.
  • When you pack for your layover, make sure you pack light and smart.  Pack a small backpack or a carry-on suitcase with the essentials you need for your layover. This includes your passport, boarding pass, wallet, phone, charger, headphones, book or e-reader, and a change of clothes if necessary.
  • Check the weather and the traffic conditions if you plan to explore the city. Of course, you don’t want to get caught in a rainstorm with an umbrella or spend hours in traffic trying to get to a tourist attraction.
  • Look for any events, festivals, or exhibitions that may be happening during your layover. Make a list of things you’d like to do, see or eat and prioritize them based on your time, budget, and interests.

2. Explore the Airport

Airports are not just boring gateways but also mini-cities with their own personality and culture. Many airports worldwide are investing in art installations, museums, restaurants, and other amenities to make the travel experience more enjoyable and memorable.

Like, Singapore’s Changi Airport has a butterfly garden, rooftop pool, and 24-hour cinema. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport has a mini-museum with paintings by Dutch masters, a library, and a casino. Even smaller airports like Portland’s PDX have local shops, art installations, and food carts that showcase the city’s culture and flavors.

So why not take advantage of that? Put on your walking shoes, grab a map, and go on a scavenger hunt for cool things to see and do.

Here are some ideas:

  • Visit the airport museum or art gallery and learn about the local history and culture.
  • Check out the duty-free shops and see what’s new and exciting. You might find unique souvenirs, perfumes, or gadgets you can’t get anywhere else.
  • Share a selfie with a famous landmark or artwork on social media with your friends and family. Bonus points if you can make it creative or funny!
  • Join a free or guided airport tour and see the behind-the-scenes operations such as baggage handling, security checkpoints, or control towers.

3. Take A City Tour

A few hours or more layover is a solid window of opportunity to venture outside the airport and see sights or do some activities. Many airports offer free or guided tours of nearby landmarks or attractions. Or you can DIY with public transportation or ridesharing apps.

For example, if you’re in Paris, you can take a train or bus to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, or Montmartre. Or you can rent a bike and explore the city’s charming streets and cafes.

If you’re in London, you can take a double-decker bus tour of the city’s highlights like the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace. Or you can visit museums, galleries, or parks like the British Museum, the Tate Modern, or Hyde Park. Check out these tourist attractions and iconic landmarks that you can visit and turn your layover into a bonus tour.

Remember, you should plan and factor in the time and cost of transportation as well as the safety and security of the area. You should also check if you need a visa or other documents to enter or leave the airport and if there are any quarantine or health requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

4. Connect With Other Travelers

Traveling is an excellent opportunity to meet new friends, learn new languages, and exchange ideas. Layovers are a great opportunity to do just that.

You can converse with a fellow traveler, a local vendor, or an airport staff member. This may sound cliché but you never know who you may meet on a plane. You may sit next to a CEO, a musician, a diplomat, or a backpacker.

They all have their own stories, perspectives, and insights. You can try to break the ice with a friendly smile, a compliment, or a question. You can also ask them where they’re from, where they’re heading to, or what they like about traveling.

You can ask them for recommendations on where to eat or drink, what to see or do, or how to survive long flights. You can check the airport’s website or the tourist information center for more details or simply ask the staff at the information desk.

In addition, sharing your own experiences & insights can help you make new friends along the way. You can join travel groups, language exchange programs, virtual events, and connect with other travelers or locals. You can also use dating apps if you’re single and looking to mingle. But make sure to stay safe and respectful.

5. Shop And Dine

One of the simplest and most enjoyable ways to make your layovers fun is to indulge in shopping and dining. Most airports have a wide range of shops, from duty-free boutiques to luxury brands, where you can find souvenirs, gifts, or personal items.

Go on a foodie adventure and sample some local or international cuisine. Many airports now offer gourmet restaurants, food trucks, and pop-up stands that cater to all tastes and diets.

Try regional specialties like sushi in Tokyo, currywurst in Berlin, poutine in Montreal, or deep-dish pizza in Chicago. You can also sample local beers, wines, and spirits or boost caffeine with a specialty coffee or tea.

You might discover a new favorite dish or beverage or meet some friendly chefs and servers along the way. Not only will you satisfy your taste buds, but you’ll also get a glimpse of the local culture and customs.

Some Essential Self-care Practices During Layover

Traveling can be stressful, tiring, and challenging for your body and mind. Layovers can exacerbate these effects. Here are some self-care practices that you can do during your layover:

  • Exercise: Consider exercising if you have a long layover and want to stay energized. Exercise can help you reduce stress and improve your mood.
  • Meditate: Try meditating if you feel anxious, restless, or overwhelmed. For example, you can find a quiet spot in the airport, put on some headphones, and listen to guided meditation or calming music. Meditation can help you reduce stress.
  • Sleep: Take a nap if you’re tired, jet-lagged, or sleep-deprived. Sleep can help you recharge energy and reduce your risk of falling ill.
  • Eat healthy: Choose healthy and nourishing foods and drinks if you’re hungry. Avoid fast food, junk food, and sugary drinks. They can make you feel bloated, sluggish, and dehydrated. Instead, opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and water or herbal tea.


Layovers can be more than just boring and stressful waiting periods between flights. With enough curiosity and flexibility, you can turn your layovers into fun and memorable experiences that add value to your travels & your life.

The key is to stay proactive and flexible. Instead of seeing layovers as obstacles, see them as opportunities to step out of your comfort zone, expand your horizons and discover new things about yourself  & the world. Even if your layovers are delayed or unexpected, you can still make the most of them by staying adaptable and patient.

Remember, traveling is not just about reaching your destination. It’s also about enjoying the journey, and layovers are an integral part of that journey.

So, the next time you find yourself stuck in an airport, don’t despair. Take a deep breath, put on a smile, and get ready for some fun. Safe travels and happy layovers!

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